• Australian Sphingidae – DNA Barcodes Challenge Current Species Boundaries and Distributions

      Rougerie, R; Haxaire, J; Miller, SE; Hausmann, A; Hebert, PDN; Kitching, I; Mans, BJ (PLOS, 2014-07-02)
    • Bidirectional Introgressive Hybridization between a Cattle and Human Schistosome Species

      Huyse, T; Webster, BL; Geldof, S; Stothard, JR; Diaw, OT; Polman, K; Rollinson, D; Kazura, JW (PLOS, 2009-09-04)
      Schistosomiasis is a disease of great medical and veterinary importance in tropical and subtropical regions, caused by parasitic flatworms of the genus Schistosoma (subclass Digenea). Following major water development schemes in the 1980s, schistosomiasis has become an important parasitic disease of children living in the Senegal River Basin (SRB). During molecular parasitological surveys, nuclear and mitochondrial markers revealed unexpected natural interactions between a bovine and human Schistosoma species: S. bovis and S. haematobium, respectively. Hybrid schistosomes recovered from the urine and faeces of children and the intermediate snail hosts of both parental species, Bulinus truncatus and B. globosus, presented a nuclear ITS rRNA sequence identical to S. haematobium, while the partial mitochondrial cox1 sequence was identified as S. bovis. Molecular data suggest that the hybrids are not 1st generation and are a result of parental and/or hybrid backcrosses, indicating a stable hybrid zone. Larval stages with the reverse genetic profile were also found and are suggested to be F1 progeny. The data provide indisputable evidence for the occurrence of bidirectional introgressive hybridization between a bovine and a human Schistosoma species. Hybrid species have been found infecting B. truncatus, a snail species that is now very abundant throughout the SRB. The recent increase in urinary schistosomiasis in the villages along the SRB could therefore be a direct effect of the increased transmission through B. truncatus. Hybridization between schistosomes under laboratory conditions has been shown to result in heterosis (higher fecundity, faster maturation time, wider intermediate host spectrum), having important implications on disease prevalence, pathology and treatment. If this new hybrid exhibits the same hybrid vigour, it could develop into an emerging pathogen, necessitating further control strategies in zones where both parental species overlap.
    • Contrasting Biogeographic and Diversification Patterns in Two Mediterranean-Type Ecosystems

      Buerki, S; Jose, S; Yadav, SR; Goldblatt, P; Manning, JC; Forest, F; Salamin, N (PLOS, 2012-06-20)
      The five Mediterranean regions of the world comprise almost 50,000 plant species (ca 20% of the known vascular plants) despite accounting for less than 5% of the world’s land surface. The ecology and evolutionary history of two of these regions, the Cape Floristic Region and the Mediterranean Basin, have been extensively investigated, but there have been few studies aimed at understanding the historical relationships between them. Here, we examine the biogeographic and diversification processes that shaped the evolution of plant diversity in the Cape and the Mediterranean Basin using a large plastid data set for the geophyte family Hyacinthaceae (comprising ca. 25% of the total diversity of the group), a group found mainly throughout Africa and Eurasia. Hyacinthaceae is a predominant group in the Cape and the Mediterranean Basin both in terms of number of species and their morphological and ecological variability. Using state-of-the-art methods in biogeography and diversification, we found that the Old World members of the family originated in sub-Saharan Africa at the Paleocene–Eocene boundary and that the two Mediterranean regions both have high diversification rates, but contrasting biogeographic histories. While the Cape diversity has been greatly influenced by its relationship with sub-Saharan Africa throughout the history of the family, the Mediterranean Basin had no connection with the latter after the onset of the Mediterranean climate in the region and the aridification of the Sahara. The Mediterranean Basin subsequently contributed significantly to the diversity of neighbouring areas, especially Northern Europe and the Middle East, whereas the Cape can be seen as a biogeographical cul-de-sac, with only a few dispersals toward sub-Saharan Africa. The understanding of the evolutionary history of these two important repositories of biodiversity would benefit from the application of the framework developed here to other groups of plants present in the two regions.
    • Deep-sea anthropogenic macrodebris harbours rich and diverse communities of bacteria and archaea

      Woodall, LC; Jungblut, AD; Hopkins, K; Hall, A; Robinson, LF; Gwinnett, C; Paterson, GLJ (PLOS, 2018-11-28)
      The deep sea is the largest biome on earth, and microbes dominate in biomass and abundance. Anthropogenic litter is now almost ubiquitous in this biome, and its deposition creates new habitats and environments, including for microbial assemblages. With the ever increasing accumulation of this debris, it is timely to identify and describe the bacterial and archaeal communities that are able to form biofilms on macrodebris in the deep sea. Using 16S rRNA gene high throughput sequencing, we show for the first time the composition of bacteria and archaea on macrodebris collected from the deep sea. Our data suggest differences in the microbial assemblage composition across litter of different materials including metal, rubber, glass, fabric and plastic. These results imply that anthropogenic macrodebris provide diverse habitats for bacterial and archaeal biofilms and each may harbour distinct microbial communities.
    • Genetic Diversity within Schistosoma haematobium: DNA Barcoding Reveals Two Distinct Groups

      Webster, BL; Emery, AM; Webster, JP; Gouvras, A; Garba, A; Diaw, O; Seye, MM; Tchuente, LAT; Simoonga, C; Mwanga, J; et al. (PLOS, 2012-10-25)
      Background Schistosomiasis in one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases, affecting millions of people and animals in developing countries. Amongst the human-infective species S. haematobium is one of the most widespread causing urogenital schistosomiasis, a major human health problem across Africa, however in terms of research this human pathogen has been severely neglected. Methodology/Principal Findings To elucidate the genetic diversity of Schistosoma haematobium, a DNA ‘barcoding’ study was performed on parasite material collected from 41 localities representing 18 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. Surprisingly low sequence variation was found within the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (cox1) and the NADH-dehydrogenase subunit 1 snad1). The 61 haplotypes found within 1978 individual samples split into two distinct groups; one (Group 1) that is predominately made up of parasites from the African mainland and the other (Group 2) that is made up of samples exclusively from the Indian Ocean Islands and the neighbouring African coastal regions. Within Group 1 there was a dominance of one particular haplotype (H1) representing 1574 (80%) of the samples analyzed. Population genetic diversity increased in samples collected from the East African coastal regions and the data suggest that there has been movement of parasites between these areas and the Indian Ocean Islands. Conclusions/Significance The high occurrence of the haplotype (H1) suggests that at some point in the recent evolutionary history of S. haematobium in Africa the population may have passed through a genetic ‘bottleneck’ followed by a population expansion. This study provides novel and extremely interesting insights into the population genetics of S. haematobium on a large geographic scale, which may have consequence for control and monitoring of urogenital schistosomiasis.
    • Molecular and Phenotypic Data Support the Recognition of the Wakatobi Flowerpecker (Dicaeum kuehni) from the Unique and Understudied Sulawesi Region

      Kelly, SBA; Kelly, DJ; Cooper, N; Bahrun, A; Analuddin, K; Marples, NM; Fine, PVA (PLOS, 2014-06-04)
      Accurate estimates of species richness are essential to macroecological and macroevolutionary research, as well as to the effective management and conservation of biodiversity. The resolution of taxonomic relationships is therefore of vital importance. While molecular methods have revolutionised taxonomy, contemporary species delimitation requires an integrative, multi-disciplinary approach. Despite boasting a remarkably high level of endemism, the avifauna of the Sulawesi region of Indonesia remains poorly studied. Previous studies of avian diversity in Sulawesi have focussed predominantly on phenotypic characteristics, thus potentially overlooking any genetically distinct lineages. Grey-sided Flowerpecker Dicaeum celebicum populations from the Wakatobi archipelago were originally described as a separate species from those on nearby mainland Sulawesi. However, for reasons that remain unknown, the Wakatobi populations were reclassified as a subspecies of the mainland form. Combining estimates of genetic divergence with phylogenetic and morphological analyses, we reassessed the status of Wakatobi populations. Our results describe the Wakatobi populations as a separate species to those on mainland Sulawesi; reproductively isolated, genetically and morphologically distinct. We therefore recommend the reclassification of these populations to their original status of Dicaeum kuehni and propose the vernacular name ‘Wakatobi Flowerpecker’. In consideration of our findings and the lack of integrative ornithological research within the Sulawesi region, we believe species richness and avian endemism within the region are underestimated.
    • A molecular, morphological, and physiological comparison of English and German populations of Calliphora vicina (Diptera: Calliphoridae).

      Limsopatham, K; Hall, MJR; Zehner, R; Zajac, BK; Verhoff, MA; Sontigun, N; Sukontason, K; Sukontason, KL; Amendt, J (PLOS, 2018-12-03)
      The bluebottle blow fly Calliphora vicina is a common species distributed throughout Europe that can play an important role as forensic evidence in crime investigations. Developmental rates of C. vicina from distinct populations from Germany and England were compared under different temperature regimes to explore the use of growth data from different geographical regions for local case work. Wing morphometrics and molecular analysis between these populations were also studied as indicators for biological differences. One colony each of German and English C. vicina were cultured at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Frankfurt, Germany. Three different temperature regimes were applied, two constant (16°C & 25°C) and one variable (17-26°C, room temperature = RT). At seven time points (600, 850, 1200, 1450, 1800, 2050, and 2400 accumulated degree hours), larval lengths were measured; additionally, the durations of the post feeding stage and intrapuparial metamorphosis were recorded. For the morphometric and molecular study, 184 females and 133 males from each C. vicina population (Germany n = 3, England n = 4) were sampled. Right wings were measured based on 19 landmarks and analyzed using canonical variates analysis and discriminant function analysis. DNA was isolated from three legs per specimen (n = 61) using 5% chelex. A 784 bp long fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene was sequenced; sequences were aligned and phylogenetically analyzed. Similar larval growth rates of C. vicina were found from different geographic populations at different temperatures during the major part of development. Nevertheless, because minor differences were found a wider range of temperatures and sampling more time points should be analyzed to obtain more information relevant for forensic case work. Wing shape variation showed a difference between the German and English populations (P<0.0001). However, separation between the seven German and English populations at the smaller geographic scale remained ambiguous. Molecular phylogenetic analysis by maximum likelihood method could not unambiguously separate the different geographic populations at a national (Germany vs England) or local level.